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December 13, 2013

Norman City Council, committee discussion continues regarding renewing half-cent tax

NORMAN — Members of city council and the citizens public safety oversight committee continued discussion of the renewal of the half-cent Public Safety Sales Tax on at an oversight committee meeting Thursday.

Nearly everyone voiced their concerns that the sales tax needed to be renewed, but whether that renewal will go to voters in the form of a temporary or permanent tax during elections in April is under debate.

The two forms of temporary sales taxes being discussed include a seven-year or 10-year time frame. Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said the 10-year temporary sales tax would be more ideal because it would allow them to pick up more capital needs project.

Council member Robert Castleberry said he believes if they are going to hire people for permanent positions, it needs to be a permanent tax. He also discussed making part of the tax permanent and part of it temporary, using the permanent portion for employee salaries and the temporary portion on capital needs.

Castleberry said that option would include making three-eighths of the tax permanent and using the last eighth, the temporary portion, for capital needs.

One member of the oversight committee, W.E. Duff, said one of his biggest concerns is making sure the revenue from the public safety sales tax is only used for public safety purposes.

“If you don’t tie this money down tight to where the city can’t dip into it, you’re going to have opposition,” Duff said.

Rosenthal said with the current tax, they have abided by the ordinance set forth when the tax was voted in.

Castleberry said when money was taken from the public safety sales tax fund and placed in the Rainy Day fund, if that money was ever taken out, it could only be used for public safety.

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